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POP Montreal Advice: Energy Bars!

Posted by Amie / September 27, 2010

POP Montreal Advice: Energy BarsPOP Montreal starts this Wednesday, and while Midnight Poutine will be looking out for your musical interests, it would be irresponsible to send you out into a city of great shows unprepared. Kind of like a bartender letting you get drunk (on music) and then not making sure you have a safe and car-free way home (enough energy to keep you dancing all night). So, here are some store-bought and DIY-energy bar recommendations to keep you on your feet...you know, just in case you can't figure out how to package up a hot, gooey poutine and keep it warm (and un-eaten by friends) from the start of your night to the end.

Choosing the right bar is tough. So I went to a new store in Griffintown, Marché Bleuet, to check out the options. Here's the run-down:

Protein Bars:
Clif Bars: Are you a rock climber? Unless you plan on climbing the sides of the stage to rappel down onto the bass player, you don't need this bar. It's heavy on soy products and sweetening syrups, and is a deceptively dense meal replacement. There are, however, a lot of flavours to choose from.
Elevate Me! BarsElevate Me!: Way too much whey protein, though it seems like it would help get you above the bass player. Less equipment involved in the elevation process, so it's a little more stealth...

GenSoy: Another soy-based option packed with protein, but also packed with sugar and dairy. Again, probably overkill, though in this scenario the bass player doesn't get knocked over.

Soy-Free Bars:FitSmart BarFitSmart: This could work. The marketing implies that you will be both fit and smart after eating this bar, or perhaps you already are for choosing to eat this bar. The "fit" part is important for dancing. The "smart" part is important for choosing the right show. It's high in fibre, though, and waiting in line for the washroom is not what you want to be doing when Little Scream is breaking your heart.

VegaVega: This is actually an interesting option. It's vegan, soy-free, features sprouted grains, and has agave nectar and dates to sweeten. The thing is, originally this company sold their protein in powder form that you add to water. It tasted awful. The bar isn't as low fat as the powder, but it tastes better. The hardcore will go with the powder smuggled into a show in a waterbottle (do not mix with alcohol...), but people who have taste-buds will go with the bars.

Larabars: Definitely not protein bars, but Larabar is the easily-found "all-natural" option. Seems like they're everywhere. There are usually a grand total of 2 or 3 ingredients in these bars (Pecan Pie Bar: dates, pecans, and almonds). Heavy on non-refined sugar from all the dates, so plenty of energy to keep you moving, but high fat from the healthy nuts.

Raw Bars:
Earthling Goji Bars: These are great, but they're tiny. It's just a snack, and you'll be hungry again in no time. The nuts are soaked and dehydrated to reduce enzyme inhibitors and ingredients are all simple and delicious (coconut, almonds, goji berries, figs, raw agave nectar, sea salt, cinnamon, vanilla bean), so if you only need a tiny pick-me-up, this is a good choice.

Oskri Coconut Bars: You can go the fruity way or the chocolate way with these, but while they're super healthy for you from the coconut, you probably want to eat about a quarter or a half of it per act you see at POP Montreal. Eating more than a few of these (or any of these bars, really) will lead to you wishing you'd just held out for poutine. These aren't actually raw, but imagine raw poutine...Dehydrated potato, cashew cheese, and miso gravy...hmm...this is something to try.

The Straight-Up Granola Bars:
Everyone's Organic BarsEveryone's Organics: Traditional oats and honey without the preservatives and oils of the granola bar aisle in your average grocery store. They're Canadian, so if you aren't making your own at home (see below), and you want to eat a few bars in the evening instead of rationing one of the more intense bars above, these are a good option. Dancing burns a whole lot of calories, but a dance marathon is not a road-race marathon, so these will do you just fine.Nature's Path Granola BarsNature's Path Organics: Everyone knows this cereal brand. Now they have organic granola bars too. A little heavy on the syrups and soy oil, but this falls somewhere between dessert and a snack. Not quite as wholesome as Everyone's Organics, above, but more affordable than all the other bars in the list. Big company = lower prices, but you could also choose to support the little grassroots guy. Maybe these guys were grassroots once too, though.

Or you can save some money and make your own.
DIY Granola Bar Recipe
1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour (you can make almond flour by toasting almonds and grinding them very fine. You can also skip the toasting)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup oil (grapeseed, safflower, or olive oil, but any will do. So will softened butter or margarine)
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
1/4 cup almond slivers (optional)
1/4 cup raisins

1. In a small bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, honey or agave, and vanilla.
3. Stir dry ingredients into wet. Mix in coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond slivers and raisins, if using.
4. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with oil (or butter). Press the dough into the baking dish, wetting your hands with water to help pat the dough down evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

DIY Raw Larabar Recipe

1/4 cup dates, pits removed, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries, raisins)
1/3 cup whole nuts, toasted or untoasted (pecans, almonds or walnuts. Whole is fresher but chopped is fine too)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or a few thin slivers of lemon zest (optional)

Basically you could throw all this stuff in a blender and then make it into a bar shape and cut it in half (the un-cut bar serves two people, and the cut bars serve one each), but then you'd lose the texture of the nuts and you'd probably also destroy your blender. A food processor will do a better job, and if you only roughly chop the nuts (with a knife, or in a food processor or blender) you can add it to the dried fruit purée and end up with something closer to a cooked granola bar.

If you can find Iranian dates that come in a box (P/A supermarché has them, as well as Les Douceurs du Marché at the Atwater Market, and La Vieille Europe on St-Laurent, to name a few) they're fresh, so they'll blend well. If the fruit purée is too liquidy to combine un-messily with the nuts wrap the puréed and chopped ingredients in plastic wrap to shape into a bar. If it's still too liquid put it (not in the plastic wrap) in the oven on the lowest possible temperature with the door slightly open to dehydrate it (for approximately an hour. It will still be raw, but a little crunchier and firmer).
Fresh Dates.You can also find fresh dates this time of year at some of the fruit vendors at Jean-Talon. You'll have to let them ripen a few days, so buy them now in preparation for POP Montreal. Those alone could get you through the night on a natural sugar high. You probably wouldn't sleep after 10 of them.

If you can only find dried dates, just soak them in room temperature water for 2-3 hours to soften them up. Then drain them and purée with the other dried (unsoaked if they're small, soaked if they're large and you think they'll get stuck in the blender) fruit. If you use too much water you'll just need to mix the purée with the nuts and other ingredients and leave it in the oven on the lowest possible temperature with the door slightly open for a bit longer. Not the end of the world.

Oh, and if you're a podcast listener and hate me because we were eating angel food cake for Gabby's birthday, here's the recipe so you can make your own: Almond Angel Food Cake with Cinnamon Amaretto Figs and Amaretto Cream

Marché Bleuet
2733 rue Notre-Dame West
Mon - Tue 9am - 7pm
Wed - Fri 9am - 8pm
Sat 10am - 5pm
Sun noon - 5pm
514-507-2404

Discussion

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